Horses are known to be pets or farm animals. They may not be as cute as your dogs or cats, but they are just as adorable. This is why the term “horse slaughter” makes a lot of people cringe at even the thought of it. The term refers to the process of slaughtering horse for meat. In the past, it has been a popular practice in many parts of the United States, but has diminished over the years. in 2008, around 134,000 horses were reported for slaughter in the U.S. and Canada. This was the second time that such a large number of horses are to be butchered. The first was in 1995. Yet if you think about all the other meat that people consume, like pork, lamb, beef and chicken, which are also slaughtered for food, what makes horsemeat different?
Slaughtering horses has become one of the most sensitive topics being constantly debated. Some believe that this is incredibly horrific and inhumane, while others think that it is completely fine to continue butchering equines. How about you? Are you in favor of this practice or not? To have a better opinion about horse slaughter, it is best to know it’s pros and cons. Here are some of them:
List of Pros of Horse Slaughter
1. It provides income.
Slaughtering horses for food will provide income for the owner. Raising horses is expensive – feeds, housing, medications, etc. – so when the owner sells horsemeat, he gets back some or more than the money he lost.
2. It provides job opportunities.
Slaughterhouses need people to cut the horsemeat. When it’s time to sell the meat, people will also be tasked to do it. In short, there will be more work for community members.
3. It increases production of more meat for consumption.
Because a lot of people eat horsemeat on a regular basis. Proponents argue that the slaughtering these animals will provide more food for the people. Hence, many don’t see any reason why this should be discontinued or banned.
4. It controls the population.
If not properly regulated, horse population could get out of control. If this happens, not every single one of them might be taken care of and live a happy life, this is why slaughtering them will help control their numbers. Aside from that, this practice gets rid of lesser or wilder breeds and increases those of better quality.
5. It solves the problem of old, injured and unwanted horses.
Instead of mercy-killing them, why not sell them to butchers? Horses that have become too old or too weak for racing or farm work will be euthanized if they are not sold to slaughterhouses. So sending them to butcher houses, which follow safety standards, is the most humane way to get rid of those animals. This also takes out the burden from owners of horses who have outlived their useful lives.
List of Cons of Horse Slaughter
1. It allows slaughterhouses to continue the practice of horrifically killing horses.
When horses are brought into a butcher house, they run all over the place to avoid being restrained. But once they are caught, they will be hung upside down and its throat will be slit. In some places, horses are shot with a gun or captive bolt to the head. Aside from that, the unwanted equines will be crammed in small compartments and force fed with food that are normally included in their diet. In other words, a lot of the slaughterhouses in operation could cause a great deal of suffering to these poor creatures. Opponents of horse slaughter believe that this morbid act is inhumane.
2. It can become a major industry.
If the practice of slaughtering horses becomes widespread and the demand for horsemeat gets higher, abuse of these animals will become a commonplace. This means that more and more horses will be forced to live in poor conditions for the sake of increasing production. When that happens, an industry based on animal cruelty will be established.
3. It can pose severe health risks.
Horses have more blood in their system than cattle or any other animal. Experts say that blood is so hard to neutralize and to dispose of it in a non-toxic manner. This makes slaughterhouses a risk to the environment as well as to people’s health. Without proper supervision, people who are hired to slaughter the animals can get sick.
4. It raises moral and societal questions.
For many decades, horses have always been considered domesticated animals – they act as pets and companions to some. So by mercilessly killing them, questions of the morality of such acts will increase. And when this practice becomes mainstream, a lot of people will become uneasy and thus, a moral outrage would ensue, which would be immensely difficult to ignore.
People have always been accustomed to eating meat from pig, chicken and cattle, but never from equines. So when the slaughtering and consumption of horsemeat will become widespread, it won’t be impossible for a backlash to happen. This is because society has always considered horses as companions, not food. For many years now, people ride horses, care for them, feed them and even name them. Like dogs and cats, these four-legged creatures are loved and considered part of the family in many American homes. This is why many are opposed to slaughtering them for meat.
Yes, horsemeat can provide more sources of food while horse slaughter can be an effective way to get rid of unwanted animals. It can also increase a community’s income because of the revenue such business brings in. But if these poor creatures are subjected to a great deal of suffering and are inhumanely killed, then there is a reason for people to oppose this practice.
If horse slaughter can solve the increasing problem of unwanted animals, then it will be a good thing. But if it means putting lives and the environment in danger, there is no reason for it to be continued in the U.S.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.